Published on: 29 Aug 2023
By: Brian Anderson
You may have heard and read that many role titles in the future will be unrecognisable from those today. Indeed, visits to a Middle Eastern client of ours offered a peak into this world; alongside sustainability and innovation roles were officers of Greenification, Fintech, Prosumer, and yes, a Chief Happiness Officer. It was natural to be curious, impressed and yes, a little apprehensive… Where would I fit in this world?
Many organisations now have ‘transformation’-based roles. I’m living, breathing evidence of that, but actually such roles were rare not so long ago. What does transformation mean? And one to ponder, is it what we really need?
A little research confirms that definitions of ‘transformation’ - business or otherwise - are characterised by words such as miraculous, dramatic and absolute, in order to affect a “complete change in state.” And, sometimes, this is what our bottom-of-the-league football teams, or horribly overgrown gardens, do need. But give or take the obviously failing exceptions, how often does this really apply to our own profitable businesses?
Early in my working career, I was lucky enough to learn the distinction between the Japanese words kaikaku (radical change) and kaizen (continuous improvement) and the different ways each should be approached. Either way, our change programmes should be deliberately planned, and guess what, most will require evolutionary rather than revolutionary improvement journeys. So, could the focus and the very word ‘transformation’ itself, be a misnomer, setting unrealistic and even unnecessary expectations? Would we be better off reframing our change needs around improvement nudges here and tweaks there? Be a little less ambitious and a bit more kaizen?
Tempting as it is to suggest a pragmatic “yes,” I think no. There are transformational needs outside, if not always inside, our businesses. Will our over-heating planet for example, thank us for pruning our targets and mitigating actions, or for scrapping those net zero promises? We need collective radical, absolute, radical changes in our behaviours.
We need climatekaikaku.
We need transformational mindsets, cultures and demands in all of our businesses at the very, very least. Our organisations have a role in leading governments, consumers, supply chains, and regulators to transform. And if our businesses can’t transform, what’s going to happen to all those new-fangled job roles? Who’ll get to be Chief Excitement Officer?
I think Transformation is here to stay.